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17 August 2013

1. First thoughts


XMoto ( is a great and very addictive game. I first played with it when I was studying Computer Science at the University of Mons (UMONS), Belgium.

At that time (2005), I just switched my laptop from Windows to Linux for a day-to-day use (first Mandriva then Ubuntu) and I was in need for a game to play between programming sessions. XMoto was the perfect candidate, good for short or long sessions, good for single or multi-player games (team project breaks).

XMoto was not really beautiful, but it was open-source (GNU/GPL) and at that time, it was nice to have a cool game to play on Linux.

The simple gameplay - driving a moto with the arrows while dealing with the gravity - was really easy to grasp and so, after some months, half of my class was playing it.


A little bit of history

Wikipedia informs us that XMoto was created on 2005 to clone Elasto Mania. The game is made with C++ and the code lives in a public repository.

With time, and in the great open-source tradition, the project evolved with the help of many contributors.

Recently, the development slowed down and is now quite interrupted (last commit was 4 months ago and very minor). But there is still new levels created by the community (more than 3000 levels were accepted in the official pack of levels).

An itch to scratch

Flash forward, we are now in 2013, I'm gratuated and, after some time at the University as a PhD student in the field of Model-Driven Software Engineering, I dropped-out to create my company 80LIMIT. My day-to-day job is now to create web applications using Ruby on Rails and AngularJS.


Passionate about games, I'm quite confident that the browser will be the gaming platform of the future. As a result, I like to use spare time between client projects to work on games. One of these games is Sokoban is a well-known game in the field of artificial intelligence and my Master Thesis was about it. So it seemed logical to create a game about it.

I connected the game to Facebook and it helped to have users playing the game. About 4-5 months after launch, 1.900 users have subscribed and 52.000 levels were solved. About 25 levels solved by user, not bad for a hobby !

Sokoban-Game is open-source (GNU/GPL) and hosted on GitHub. You are free to have a look at the code.


After the relative success of Sokoban, I wanted to create a more popular and fun game to play. Something that could be multiplayer. Something with nice graphics. Something using Canvas 2D or Canvas 3D on HTML5 and nice animations. Something not too complicated, neither too simple.

My point of view is that XMoto is conceptually made for the social web because it has a big community that created lots of levels, people like to challenge themselves and the replays are really nice for that. The web is the perfect medium because people can play 5 minutes on a level to challenge a friend on Facebook, without having to install anything.

XMoto was the programming challenge I was ready to accept.

And, to put myself under pressure, I announced it on the official forum before even writing a single line of code.